Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The power of a great teacher.

This lovely WSJ essay about a great teacher (here) triggered a couple of thoughts:

(1) I still believe that it's possible (and more common than people might think) to be a strong scholar and a strong teacher, but I'm glad that people who have particular strengths can get rewarded for doing what they love.  The essay reminded me about one of my favorite teachers at Rice, Dennis Huston, who took my breath away when I was a student.  First, he intimidated me; then he challenged me; then he encouraged me.  So many students loved him, in fact, that when he needed blood transfusions, several alumni lined up for the privilege of helping.  Want to get a glimpse of this marvelous professor?  See here.

(2) We need to remember that great teaching can have the same ripple effects as great scholarship.  Yes, great scholarship can live on long after the author has died; but great teaching gets carried on, person to person, as well.  (The opposite is also true:  weak scholarship doesn't even make a ripple, and weak teaching does nothing to enrich students' lives after the course is over.)

What a great opportunity for us to thank the great teachers in our lives!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hooray for Judge Phyllis Frye!

Front page of the New York Times (here)!  I've known Judge Frye for around 15 years, and she and her wife Trish are lovely, warm, wicked-smart people. 

I wish that her time at the University of Houston Law Center had been more welcoming.  The story captures some of what she went through:
The self-defense, combined with a charm offensive, began in law school itself, at the University of Houston. During her first semester, she felt shunned. Determined to break out of her isolation, she requested the seating charts for her classes, memorized her classmates’ names and approached them one by one. She tussled with the administration to gain access to the women’s restroom, the kind of fight that continues to this day.
 I'm so proud of her that I could burst, and I know that her story will inspire others.

Tale of a customer service fail (GrubHub)

Last night, we decided to order in and catch up on some shows, so I did what I often do when I'm out of town--order from GrubHub.  I ordered nice and early (yes, we're early risers, so we're early diners, too), on the theory that the food might take more than an hour to arrive.  I got a confirmation number with my "yes, you've made an order" notice (below).  After more than an hour had passed without getting the food, I called the restaurant, which told me that I had no such order on file.  I started to order directly from the restaurant, because we like the food there a lot, and then decided that I'd order elsewhere instead (which we did).  I told the restaurant that we didn't want to order, after all.  I tried to contact GrubHub, but the website was down, the phone was busy, etc.  So I tweeted my problem to +GrubHub Seamless.  Radio silence.

Three hours later, the restaurant's delivery person showed up w/our order.  Apparently, GrubHub put the order through once its website was back up.  We told the delivery person that we'd canceled the order three hours earlier. 

I got back on Twitter and on Facebook.  The Facebook site indicates that the same thing was happening to more people.  I posted another tweet, and once I finally got the GrubHub email that "my order was in the works" (three hours too late), I replied and explained my problem--and asked that I not be charged.

STILL radio silence.  Let's see how long it takes for GrubHub to get back to me and others affected by yesterday's webfail.